“FEC Deadlocks on Probing Pro-Rubio Super PAC Money”

…neled through a limited liability corporation. Conservative Solutions PAC reported receiving the money from IGX LLC. Complaints filed with the FEC, citing news reports, said the money should have been reported as coming from Brooklyn investor Andrew Duncan. The commission’s 2-2, party-line vote on whether to pursue enforcement action resulted in dismissal of the matter. The vote was announced today…. In an open commission meeting May…

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“Mexican national indicted for illegal voting in Harris County”

…oter fraud nationally and in Texas, where two North Texas women were sentenced to several years in prison for illegal voting. Laura Janeth Garza, 38, was arrested Friday in Houston after being indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on two charges of illegally voting in Harris County after allegedly stealing the identity of a U.S. citizen and using the information to register to vote….. Garza allegedly obtained documents to steal the…

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“Sheldon Silver Is Convicted in 2nd Corruption Trial”

…f the government’s ability to prosecute official corruption under the narrower definition. But from the outset, prosecutors this time seemed to hold an upper hand: The original verdict was only thrown out because the judge’s jury instructions were too broad, as defined by the Supreme Court decision. The retrial in Federal District Court in Manhattan seemed to move at double speed: Instead of stretching over one month, as the first trial had, the…

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“Donald Trump, John Edwards, and the Mistress Loophole; Maybe Rudy Giuliani knows what he’s doing after all.”

…into this.” This is the Edwards defense: “third party” financial arrangements over an alleged affair outside the formal campaign are never contributions. Prosecutors attempted to surmount this legal argument by showering the jury with facts and inferences indicating that one purpose of the payments was to influence the election. But they lacked “smoking guns”: strongly corroborated witnesses, thoroughly incriminating recorded conversations and…

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“Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is ‘severely admonished’ by Ethics Committee, ordered to repay gifts”

…flected discredit upon the Senate.” The Ethics Committee findings complete a winding, six-year saga that saw Menendez accused of corrupt dealings to benefit a political donor, Melgen, only to see his prosecution end in a mistrial last November after 10 weeks in court. After the mistrial, most jurors told reporters that they believed Menendez had not committed the crimes that federal prosecutors alleged and a grand jury had charged him with. On…

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“The Administration is Lying About the Census”

…as occurred, but has no direct proof; the defendant offers a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the disputed action; all the plaintiff can prove is that the proffered reason is false.  It’s then, ordinarily, up to the jury to sort out what really happened.  But the fact that the defendant offered up a reason that was definitely false is significant.  It raises a potential (contestable) inference that it may have been a lie, covering up…

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“Philadelphia-Area Political Consultant Charged in Superseding Indictment With Obstructing Investigation of Federal Election Commission”

DOJ Release: A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned a superseding indictment today adding charges in a pending criminal case against a Philadelphia-area political consultant, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The original indictmenz, returned on Oct. 24, 2017,…

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“FAN 179 (First Amendment News): Does existing First Amendment law endanger our national security and sovereignty? Prof. Hasen says yes”

I have this guest post over at Concurring Opinions. It begins: Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller secured a grand jury indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by, among other things, paying for political advertisements promoting Donald Trump for President and opposing Hillary Clinton. The claims were based in part on federal law barring most foreign nationals from spending money to…

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In Response to FEC Complaint by Common Cause, Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen Says He Paid $130,000 to Porn Star. Is There a Campaign Finance Violation?

…wered question is whether this was a campaign-related payment, or instead money paid to cover up a private affair. We’ve seen something like this before, in the John Edwards-Bunny Mellon hush money situation (where the jury found Edwards not guilty). The difference here is that this happens in the throes of the campaign, and it seems harder to argue that this is something just to preserve Trump’s reputation unrelated to the campaign….

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DOJ Drops Menendez Indictment: What Does It Say About the Supreme Court’s Approach to Political Bribery? Not What You May Think

News today that DOJ, after a hung jury the last time, has dropped the remaining charges against Sen. Menendez (some were dropped by the judge after the first trial). Much of the reason for the problems with the charges against Menendez stem from the Supreme Court’s McDonnell case, which some read as giving a green light to all kinds of improper conduct that is now immune from prosecution. I confess that I did not see McDonnell as having…

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“Judge tosses 7 of 18 counts against Menendez and Melgen”

…has acquitted Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen on seven of the 18 counts they were tried on last year, just days after the Justice Department announced its intent to try the duo again after the jury deadlocked in the first trial. U.S. District Court Judge William Walls, who came under criticism from Menendez also announced he will not preside over the retrial. The case has not been assigned to another judge yet,…

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“It may ‘smell bad,’ but Long Beach mayor’s deal-making doesn’t break the law, experts say”

…y of whom are elected to their position, he said. Lowenstein was the attorney for then Congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler, one of the few cases where he said prosecutors invoked the law. Fiedler was indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury in 1986 on a charge of offering $100,000 to an opponent to withdraw from the Republican primary. The judge in the case eventually dismissed the charges, finding the law vague and the evidence insufficient. It was…

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Government Doesn’t Want Senator Menendez to Have Prayer Circles During Next Trial

…ce.’” In its filing, the government urged the court to impose safeguards to protect the jury from what they called “undue extrajudicial pressure” during the next trial. “Each morning during trial, the jury had to walk down a long public hallway from the elevator to the jury room. Defendant Menendez, his family, his attorneys, his employees, and his supporters lined the hallway each morning until the last juror had passed….

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“Why Are Corruption Cases Crumbling? Some Blame the Supreme Court”

…ut the court’s most substantial opinion on corruption came last year when it redefined the very nature of political graft in throwing out the bribery conviction of Bob McDonnell, the former Republican governor of Virginia. A jury determined that Mr. McDonnell had helped a wealthy businessman by setting him up with influential people in an effort to promote a dietary supplement he was selling. But even though the businessman had given the…

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“Corruption Case Against Senator Menendez Ends in Mistrial”

…lection next year and his party faces a difficult battle to retake the Senate. After interviewing jurors individually in his chambers, Judge William H. Walls emerged to tell the court that, after nine weeks of testimony, the jury was deadlocked and that, as a result, “there is no alternative but to declare a mistrial.” One juror told reporters that 10 of the 12 jurors supported finding Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, not guilty, saying that…

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“Excused Menendez Juror: He’s Not Guilty”

…ay gave a glimpse into deliberations, saying most jurors favor acquittal and that she would have cast a not-guilty vote for the New Jersey Democrat on all counts. Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby spoke outside the courthouse after the jury was unable to reach a verdict after three full days and part of a fourth. The judge in August approved her leaving by this week because she had a trip planned for a family wedding…. Menendez and Florida eye doctor…

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McCutcheon Joint Fundraising Committees at Center of Controversial Donna Brazile Book Excerpt

…es first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn. “Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?” Gary said…

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“Cleveland grand jury rejects charges against 17 identified in Jon Husted’s illegal voting probe”

…nd jury voted not to charge 17 Cuyahoga County residents who were among dozens of non-U.S. citizens identified by Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted’s office as illegally voting or registering to vote in past elections. The grand jury voted late Tuesday not to hand up false voter registration charges against 16 people, and not to charge a 17th person with illegal voting, according to court documents made public Wednesday. The dates of offenses…

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NYC Voter Purge: “City Board of Elections Admits It Broke the Law, Accepts Reform”

WNYC: The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn. That’s according to a draft consent decree announced Tuesday— nearly a year after the Board was sued in federal court for violating the National Voter Registration Act and state election law. The Brooklyn voter purge…

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“Jocelyn Benson Enters Michigan Secretary of State Race”

…blican Ruth Johnson, who cannot run for a third term in 2018. Benson, of Detroit, said the half-hour guarantee should apply to residents “no matter where you are in the state,” saying she waited two hours to vote in the August 2016 primary election. She launched her campaign outside a secretary of state branch in Detroit and at stops in Grand Rapids and Lansing….

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“Menendez Trial Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss the Case”

…d Monday after a judge rejected a motion by the defense to dismiss the case based on a major Supreme Court decision last year that overturned the corruption conviction against a former Virginia governor. “We are going to the jury,” Judge William H. Walls said, after reading a lengthy opinion in a courtroom here with the jurors out of the room. Judge Walls had suggested last week that the Supreme Court decision might limit the “stream of…

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“At Menendez Trial, Legal Wrestling Over Definition of ‘Constituent’”

…enate.” But the defense, in a brief that was also filed Tuesday, claimed that the term was significantly amorphous and that wrestling with its meaning was “not a legal question for the court to answer” but rather one for the jury to determine, “because the word potentially bears on defendants’ state of mind.” In its argument, the defense pointed to the lack of an existing legal or constitutional definition of the term, and sought to…

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“Menendez Is Denied Reprieve From Corruption Trial to Cast Senate Votes”

…nal obligation to fight for his constituents. His lawyers brought this issue before Judge William H. Walls on Tuesday, hoping to minimize the impact any court absence might have. They made three requests: delay the start of the trial until after the fall congressional session; agree to postpone the trial on days when a key vote would be taking place; or have the judge formally explain to the jury that the senator could not be in court because he…

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“MT Supreme Court upholds landmark campaign-finance verdict against Wittich”

…Court Wednesday rejected an appeal from former state lawmaker Art Wittich in a landmark campaign-finance case, upholding a verdict that he accepted illegal campaign contributions in a 2010 state Senate race. A District Court jury in Helena last year found that Wittich violated campaign-finance laws by accepting illegal, unreported help from several conservative political groups. District Judge Ray Dayton of Anaconda later ordered Wittich to pay…

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“Former Durham County elections worker indicted by grand jury”

News and Observer: Investigators from the N.C. State Board of Elections determined that Rawling, 59, ran or ordered others to run provisional ballots through tabulators more than once and made manual changes to the ballot count so the results of the provisional canvass would match the number of approved provisional ballots. This didn’t affect the outcome or have a party or candidate preference. It was about someone not wanting to get in…

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Top Recent Downloads in Election Law on SSRN

…7. Prisoner Voting Saga: Reasons for Challenges Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou University of Liverpool Date Posted: 19 Jun 2017 Last Revised: 23 Jun 2017 44 8. Introduction: The Past, Present, and Future of Free Speech Joel M. Gora Brooklyn Law School Date Posted: 19 Jun 2017 Last Revised: 22 Jun 2017 36 9. Citizens United, Liberty, and John Stuart Mill Melina Constantine Bell Washington and Lee University Date Posted: 30 Jun 2017 Last Revised: 30 Jun…

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“A word with Kris Kobach; The voter-fraud commission relies on some really dodgy studies”

…surveyed voted at the presidential election in 2008. The controversial study, published in 2014, relied on just 339 respondents. The authors of that report warned that, “it is impossible to tell for certain whether the non-citizens who responded to the survey were representative of the broader population of non-citizens.” Mr Kobach hired Mr Richman to look at Kansas, where he used a grand total of 37 respondents to come up with the figure of…

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Second Circuit Grants Sheldon Silver New Trial Based on McDonnell-Linked Instructional Error

…on, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy’” involving “a formal exercise of governmental power.” Id. at 2371–72.    Silver now appeals from his judgment of conviction and argues, primarily, that the District Court’s jury instructions defining an official act as “any action taken or to be taken under color of official authority” was erroneous under McDonnell. He additionally challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on all counts of…

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Anything of Value Also Read Broadly in Context of Federal Bribery Laws (Menendez Case)

…his office in the expectation of gain, whether or not he has correctly assessed the worth of the bribe.”). Notwithstanding the statement in Citizens United that independent expenditures have no actual value to candidates, a jury could find that Defendant Menendez placed value, albeit subjective, on the earmarked donations given to Majority PAC by Melgen. Second, § 201(b)(1) criminalizes the making of a corrupt promise to a public official “to…

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“Iowa’s New Voter-ID Law Would Have Disenfranchised My Grandmother”

Ari Berman for The Nation: My grandmother Sylvia moved from Brooklyn to Iowa when she was 89 years old. It was a culture shock, to say the least. When my mom took her to vote, she complained of the candidates, “There isn’t anybody who’s Jewish!” I thought of my grandmother, who passed away in 2005 at 99, when the Iowa Legislature passed a strict voter-ID law today. She didn’t have a driver’s license because she never drove (she’d frequently…

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Kentucky Law Journal Publishes Election Law Symposium

…tical Gerrymander | Luis Fuentes-Rohwer 104 KY. L. J. 583 | Voting Realism | Gilda R. Daniels 104 KY. L. J. 607 | Economic Precarity, Race, and Voting Structures | Atiba R. Ellis 104 KY. L. J. 631 | Judicial Enforcement of a Grand Election Bargain | Michael J. Pitts 104 KY. L. J. 651 | Aggregate Corruption | Michael D. Gilbert, Emily Reeder 104 KY. L. J. 671  | Judicial Review of Direct Democracy: A Reappraisal | Michael E. Solimine 104 KY. L….

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“Does the First Amendment Protect Trump’s Travel Ban?”

…e merits, and it is likely to have negative consequences. Imagine a candidate for local prosecutor who promises to keep black people off juries. Should we not be allowed to consider such statements as proof of racial bias in jury selection out of fear of “chilling” campaign speech? It’s difficult to win cases requiring proof of discriminatory intent precisely because politicians are usually circumspect when they have discriminatory views. Trump…

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Breaking: District Court, Splitting 2-1, Finds Some Texas Congressional Districts Violate Voting Rights Act or Constitution

…arriving here, just in time, to rescue the state from oppression, obviously presuming that plaintiffs’ counsel were not up to the task. The Department of Justice moreover views Texas redistricting litigation as the potential grand prize and lusts for the day when it can reimpose preclearance via Section 3(c). Of course, these are just personal impressions based on demeanor and attitude. More objectively verifiable are the witch hunts and fishing…

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Suit to Force Wake County NC to Clean Its Voter Rolls Under the NVRA Survives Motion to Dismiss

…allegation that the number of registered voters in Wake County has exceeded, and continues to exceed, the number of eligible voters, which allegation is in turn supported by reliable data and WBOE’s failure to use available jury excuse information, a reasonable inference can be drawn that WCBOE is not making a reasonable effort to conduct a voter list maintenance program in accordance with the NVRA. See Martinez-Rivera, 166 F. Supp. 3d at…

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“A Long-Running Scandal and a Senate Pick Stir Corruption Questions in Alabama”

NYT: Mr. Strange, a former lobbyist widely regarded as ambitious and long seen as the future of Republican politics in Alabama, attended some of the grand jury testimony. Then Mr. Bentley, in his second and final term, chose Mr. Strange as Mr. Sessions’s replacement in the Senate and scheduled a special election for 2018. When his appointment was announced, Mr. Strange, 63, said the rampant speculation about an inquiry involving the governor…

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“Grand Prairie mom who got eight years: ‘I just wanted to vote and be part of it’”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “I thought I was doing something right for my country. When they gave me the sentence they just broke my heart, and they didn’t just break my heart, but I already knew my family was going to be broken, my kids especially,” Ortega said Monday during an interview at the jail, where she will remain for about a month until being transported to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility. “To me, it’s like, ‘Wow, I…

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“Fact-check: Did 3 million undocumented immigrants vote in this year’s election?”

…f 182,000 potential noncitizens that had voted. That number was whittled down to 2,700, then to about 200 before the purge was stopped amid criticism that the data was flawed given the number of false positives — including a Brooklyn-born World War II vet. Ultimately, only 85 people were removed from the voting rolls. State officials began to pursue a second attempt at a purge in advance of the 2014 election but then abandoned that effort, too….

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“First New Yorker prosecuted for voter fraud since 1873 exonerated in 20-year legal battle”

…John O’Hara as he left Brooklyn Supreme Court. “When you’re a convicted felon, it’s like you’re a second-class citizen. We are going to go have a chicken quesadilla.” O’Hara’s protracted fight for vindication ended when the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit looked at his case and reversed his voter fraud conviction. O’Hara, a political outsider and thorn in the side of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, long claimed that his…

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“Justice Dept. Seeks to Join Suit Over 117,000 Purged Brooklyn Voters”

…announced on Thursday that it had filed a motion to join a lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections, alleging that the board’s Brooklyn office violated federal voter registration law by erasing more than 117,000 Brooklyn voters from the rolls before the primary election simply because they had not voted in previous elections. The filing accused the board of failing to take several steps that are normally required before a voter’s…

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WI: “Brad Schimel: Grand jury likely to investigate John Doe leak”

…h you,” Schimel said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. “(The investigation is) going to be best suited (in) a protected environment of a courtroom where we’re asking questions and developing information.” The grand jury would investigate a leak of materials to the Guardian US, an arm of the British newspaper, which published hundreds of leaked documents from a closed secretive John Doe investigation looking into Walker raising…

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“Trump says blacks who stayed home were ‘almost as good’ as those who voted for him”

…WaPo: President-elect Donald Trump claimed Friday night that African Americans came through for him “big league” in the November election and said those who stayed home were “almost as good” as those who voted for him. Trump’s comments came during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., the latest stop on an ongoing “thank you” tour of states where the Republican prevailed against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton….

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“Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Pick for Attorney General, Is a Fierce Opponent of Civil Rights”

…he feds seized the envelopes from the mail slots. Twenty elderly black voters from Perry County were bused three hours to Mobile, where they were interrogated by law enforcement officials and forced to testify before a grand jury. Ninety-two-year-old Willie Bright was so frightened of “the law” that he wouldn’t even admit he’d voted. In January 1985, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the 39-year-old US Attorney for the Southern District of…

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“The Academy, Campaign Finance, and Free Speech under Fire”

Brad Smith has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Journal of Law and Policy).  Here is the abstract: This short essay, part of a symposium on “Free Speech Under Fire” at Brooklyn Law School, argues that academic efforts to fit campaign finance restrictions within the rubric of the First Amendment have distorted First Amendment doctrine, and contributed to a decline in respect for free speech generally. The essay briefly reviews…

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Don’t Point to Voter Registration Fraud, or Absentee Ballot Fraud, to Defend Trump’s Irresponsible Vote-Rigging Claims

…tions. He was easily caught, well before Wisconsin passed its strict voter ID law. The voter claimed amnesia; his lawyer argued he suffered from mental illness. The case shows this isn’t a problem that’s going to happen on a grand scale…. Over the weekend, Trump upped his dangerous rhetoric, suggesting that in November cheating at the polls in “certain sections of the state” would hand Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to Clinton. Never mind…

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Two from Michael Gilbert

…rnment. They offer an under-theorized but important mechanism for reducing corruption. Entrenchment, Incrementalism, and Constitutional Collapse Virginia Law Review, Forthcoming Abstract:  Entrenchment is fundamental to law. Grand documents like the U.S. Constitution, and mundane ones like city and corporate charters, entrench themselves against change through supermajority rules and other mechanisms. Entrenchment frustrates responsiveness, but…

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